December 7, 2005
An Ethiopian at Waterloo
Another day, another great Ethiopian blog. Aqumada includes an account from an Ethiopian travelling on a US passport through Waterloo, one of the main train stations in my country's capital city London.
I and another black African man were the only ones that I noticed were stopped at this checkpoint. Other nationals were neither stopped nor asked many questions while going through the checkpoint. A lone black traveller, however, does not have the same rights as other white travellers. The questions in the interrogation room mainly focused on my cultural and racial identity. Many ridiculous questions such as what my religion was and whether I go to the mosque were posed. Although irritating and embarrassing, I had to answer the questions in a way that would distance me from the stereotypical image of a terrorist (Arab and Muslim). At one point, one of the cops suggested that he remembered arresting me the previous week (a week I was not even in Britain). Not being able to control my anger, I lashed out at the police officers. Although he retreated from this question, I was probed via intentionally constructed misleading questions intended to find out whether I was an Eritrean/Muslim/Somali etc. I believe the fact that two Somali men (still at large) killed a British Police Officer during the previous week and the recent bombing incident that an Ethiopian man was involved in did not help.
The way he was treated is enough to make any self-respecting Briton ashamed. It is also deeply embarrassing. It doesn't say much about the intelligence of Britain's intelligence services that they think that randomly stopping black people at train stations actually makes us any safer. Is the next Osama really going to crumble after a couple of hours of good-cop-bad-cop routines and some random questions about mosque attendance?
Posted by aheavens at December 7, 2005 6:40 AM